“All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 30 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Slow Motion Feeling Anxiety Symptoms

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: October 8, 2019


slow motion feeling anxiety symptoms image

Slow motion feelings are common symptoms of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and others.

To see if anxiety might be playing a role in your anxiety symptoms, rate your level of anxiety using our free one-minute instant results Anxiety Test or Anxiety Disorder Test. The higher the rating, the more likely it could be contributing to your anxiety symptoms, including slow motion feeling.

This article explains the relationship between anxiety and feeling like everything is in slow motion.

Slow motion feeling anxiety symptoms descriptions

Common descriptions for the slow motion feeling anxiety symptoms include:

  • It feels like your life, or life around you, is in "slow motion."
  • It feels like everything around you has slowed down to an abnormally slow pace.
  • It feels like things are going much slower than normal.
  • It feels like your internal self has become slowed down, like mush, like everything in is slow motion.
  • It feels like even your thinking and emotional self is in slow motion.
  • It feels like the world around you is running in slow motion.
  • If feels like your thoughts and feelings are in slow motion.

This slow motion feeling anxiety symptom can affect one sense, many senses, or all of your senses.

This slow motion feeling anxiety symptom can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may feel the slow motion feeling anxiety once in a while and not that often, feel it off and on, or feel it all the time.

This slow motion feeling anxiety symptom may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

This slow motion feeling anxiety symptom can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

This slow motion feeling anxiety symptom can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

This slow motion feeling anxiety symptom can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

Why anxiety can cause the slow motion feeling?

Behaving anxiously activates the stress response. The stress response immediately causes specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body's ability to deal with a threat - to either fight with or flee from it - which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.[1][2]

A part of the stress response changes include changing how the brain functions and processes information. For example, stress hormones cause the fear center of the brain (amygdala) to be more active and the rationalization areas of the brain (cortex) to become suppressed. This change is ideal when in real danger because it heightens our awareness and reaction to danger rather than slowing us down due to processing information.

The stress response also stimulates the nervous system, which includes the brain, so that our senses are on high alert and our reactions are quicker, to name a few. Again, these changes enhance our ability to fight or flee when in real danger, and as such, are welcome changes.

When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly from the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about. Therefore, these changes are temporary and generally cause no lingering effects.

When stress responses occur too frequently, however, the body has a more difficult time recovering, which can result in the body remaining in a semi emergency readiness state, which we call "stress-response hyperstimulation". This chronic emergency readiness can cause lingering effects,[3][4] such as more persistent brain function and processing changes, which can make it seem as if we are, or the world is in, slow motion.

As long as the body and nervous system are in a state of semi emergency readiness, they can misbehave, including causing the many anomalies associated with this slow motion feeling anxiety symptom.

When I (Jim Folk) first experienced the slow motion feeling anxiety symptom, I thought it must have been caused by a serious medical, neurological, or mental illness because it was so unusual. So yes, this slow motion feeling anxiety symptom can really scare you if you don’t understand how apprehensive behavior can cause it.

How to get rid of the slow motion feeling anxiety symptom?

If your doctor has ruled out other causes for the slow motion feeling anxiety symptom, such as a side effect of medication, fatigue, low blood sugar, an adverse effect of recreational drugs, etc., the stress anxiety causes is a common cause of feeling like everything is in slow motion.

In this case, dealing with your anxiety issues and reducing your body’s stress will resolve this slow motion feeling anxiety symptom in time. When your body has fully recovered from the semi emergency readiness state, this symptom will completely subside. Therefore, the slow motion feeling anxiety symptom needn’t be a cause for concern. It’s generally not an indication of any other than a body that’s become overly stressed.

You can speed up the recovery process by reducing your stress, practicing relaxed breathing, increasing your rest and relaxation, and not worrying about this feeling. Sure, it can be unsettling and even bothersome. But again, when your body has recovered from its overly stressed state, this slow motion feeling anxiety symptom will completely disappear.

If you are having difficulty containing your worry, you may want to connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome what seems like unmanageable worry.

For a more detailed explanation about anxiety symptoms, including the slow motion feeling anxiety symptoms, why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, what containment is and how to do it, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.

Play the clip below for Jim Folk's commentary about the slow motion feeling anxiety symptoms. Jim Folk is the president of anxietycentre.com.


Slow motion feelings are common symptoms of anxiety. Jim Folk experienced numerous bouts of feeling like everything was in slow motion during his 12 year struggle with anxiety disorder.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


Additional Resources:


Return to Anxiety Disorders Signs and Symptoms section.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and coaching/counseling/therapy for problematic anxiety and its sensations and symptoms, including slow motion feelings.


REFERENCES:

1. Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill.

2. Folk, Jim and Folk, Marilyn. “The Stress Response And Anxiety Symptoms.” anxietycentre.com, August 2019.

3. Hannibal, Kara E., and Mark D. Bishop. “Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2014.

4. Justice, Nicholas J., et al. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder-Like Induction Elevates β-Amyloid Levels, Which Directly Activates Corticotropin-Releasing Factor Neurons to Exacerbate Stress Responses.” Journal of Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience, 11 Feb. 2015.